DeKalb County election recount begins SaturdayOriginally from Australia, Mark Allen on right, voted for the first time as a U.S. citizen along with his wife KiKi Kantzas-Allen who holds his naturalization papers and his son at Lakeside High School in DeKalb County on November 3, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor
DeKalb County, GA — As news broke this afternoon that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19, DeKalb County announced plans to recount 373,000 ballots cast in the presidential election on Nov. 3.
Raffensperger demanded all Georgia counties conduct a risk-limiting audit, also known as a hand recount. DeKalb County elections director Erica Hamilton said 75 teams of two staff members will review and count every ballot. Totals must be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office by midnight on Nov. 18.
DeKalb Board of Voter Registration and Elections met Nov. 12 to certify the presidential election and firm up plans for the recount. While there are no direct COVID-19 cases related to DeKalb County elections, measures are being taken to ensure best practices and safety guidelines are followed.
Ballots are being moved from Memorial Drive’s elections office to a more spacious location at Stonecrest Mall. The recount will begin early Nov. 14, and staff plans to be on-site from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day until the count is finished, said Hamilton.
“This is new to us, and things are changing by the moment,” said Hamilton.
Dr. Elizabeth Ford, DeKalb County Board of Health director, plans to oversee COVID-19 protocols including social distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitization of the building. County attorney Viviane Ernstes said she is concerned about social distancing of poll watchers and staff.
“We learned a lot in the last week about social distancing and how we organize ourselves,” Ernstes said, adding that, after working together for 10 or 12 hours on Election Day, poll watchers became more relaxed about staying six feet apart.
Dec. 1 elections include local runoffs and Georgia’s 5th Congressional District special runoff election for John Lewis’ former seat. Jan. 5 elections include the runoff for Public Service Commission and two U.S. Senate races.
Hamilton said earlier this week 36 drop boxes remain across the county and are available for the December and January elections. DeKalb County plans to mail applications for absentee ballots to all active and inactive voters in the county with pre-paid postage, except for voters on the rollover list (elderly, disabled, and overseas voters).
The Board of Elections voted unanimously to extend a contract with National Vote at Home Institute through mid-January.
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